By Leslie Fields-Cruz
The sermon Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. offered to the congregants of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church on Nov. 17, 1957, in Montgomery, Ala., included a statement that resonates with me today:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.”
– Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
King’s sermon dealt with the concept of love. He reminded his listeners that, as Christians, their mandate was to practice a radical form of love that includes loving even one’s enemies. He used this analogy of darkness and light to support his argument.
Thinking about this in a 21st century context, I view the work BPM and its partners do across the media as the practice of bringing light to spaces that for too long were allowed to operate in a monochromatic void.
Playing catch up is never easy, but I am so proud of the progress BPM has made possible and of the prospects for our future. This optimism is informed not only by the increasing diversity of Black content that is now available on public media, but also by the growing community of talented Black public media makers and executives.
My colleagues and I spent MLK weekend conducting a bootcamp for this year’s 360 Incubator+ and BPMplus fellows. In addition to explaining the expectations and demands of their respective fellowships, the in-person bootcamp focused on personal narratives, world building, idea exchange, self care, no pressure networking, and the chance for fellows to meet the mentors we’ve assigned to work with them. Over the next several months, the producers and their mentors will work toward achieving their project goals and prepare to participate in our upcoming PitchBLACK Forum in April, which will award up to $150K in production funding.
Our fellows’ projects all shine light on the experiences, talents, and wisdom of Black people. I’m still working on my capacity to love my enemies, but I agree with Dr. King that focusing our energies on bringing the light is a proven strategy for overcoming circumstances that so often leave our people and our world in the dark. So, shine bright fellows! We can’t wait to share your stories.
— Fields-Cruz is the executive director of Black Public Media